Imperialist Doublethink

by Henry on June 22, 2012

A rather remarkable editorial on the Assange-Ecuador story from the Washington Post today:

There is one potential check on Mr. Correa’s ambitions. The U.S. “empire” he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.

So on the one hand, the Washington Post believes that the notion that the US has an ‘empire’ is self-evidently ridiculous. On the other hand, it suggests that if Ecuador is impertinent enough to host an individual whom the US doesn’t like (but would have a hard time pressing charges against), it should and will express its displeasure by crippling Ecuador’s economy and threatening the livelihood of 400,000 of its citizens. These few sentences are rather useful, despite themselves, in talking to the nature of the American imperium, the doublethink that maintains it, and the usefulness of providing/withholding market access as a means of imperial coercion.

{ 152 comments }

1

rea 06.22.12 at 6:03 pm

on the one hand, the Washington Post believes that the notion that the US has an ‘empire’ is self-evidently ridiculous.

I don’t like to defend the Washington Post editorial page, but they don’t deny the existance of the ’empire’ at all. Rather, they say that the ’empire’ grants Ecuador special trade privilges. The scare quotes indicate discomfort with the term ’empire’, but they clearly recognize that there is some entity there wielding power . . .

2

Henry 06.22.12 at 6:10 pm

rea – I didn’t read it that way at all. I read it as ‘the US is not an empire, since it is so very very nice in providing trade preferences. Of course, we don’t have to be so nice.’

3

kth 06.22.12 at 6:11 pm

Also, when did the Washington Post come to regard an absence of tariffs as a special trade preference? Don’t they call it free trade the other six days of the week?

4

QS 06.22.12 at 6:40 pm

Excellent catch, Henry. Thank you.

5

etrece 06.22.12 at 6:54 pm

I agree with Henry. I don’t want sound simplistic, but the argument (if there is one) is kind of funny:

The Roman “empire” he professes to despise happens to grant Cyrenaica (which uses the aureus as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Cyrenaican foreign sales ($10 billion aureus in 70 BC) go to Rome. Etc.

6

Anderson 06.22.12 at 6:56 pm

“Nice country you’ve got there, Correa — shame if anything happened to it.”

7

Stephen 06.22.12 at 7:21 pm

Anti-imperialist doublethink: from the Washington Post article

“Mr. Assange is also indifferent to, if not supportive of, Mr. Correa’s own record on free speech. Since the beginning of this year, the Ecuadoran government has shut down 14 radio and television stations, including eight since the beginning of June. Mr. Correa’s personal lawsuits against one of the country’s leading newspapers and several investigative journalists have been condemned by every major human rights group and international press freedom monitor. In response, Mr. Correa has launched a campaign in the Organization of American States to hamstring regional press protections.”

If that’s true – I don’t know, can someone confirm – then Correa has very little interest in freedom of speech inside Ecuador, but vehemently defends freedom of speech when it is directed against the Yanqui imperialists.

Have I got that right?

8

rf 06.22.12 at 7:30 pm

Stephen, it appears to be. But would you expect any different? Assange hinself appears a dodgy enough character, from what I can tell. Doesn’t excuse the Washington Post editorial though

http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-ecuador

9

Frank in midtown 06.22.12 at 7:42 pm

Do we send them fishes wrapped in a Guayaberas?

10

lupita 06.22.12 at 7:58 pm

Have I got that right?

I will relate the other side of the story and you decide.

Correa was attacked (he was in a crowd out somewhere) by a group of cops. He was badly hurt and taken to a nearby hospital. The cops followed him inside and eventually he was rescued by armed forces.

An Ecuadorian newspaper, registered in Cayman Islands, relayed this bit of news as Correa ordering the armed forces to shoot at the crowd, that he deserved what he got, the police was acting in self-defense and defending innocent civilians.

All Latin American countries denounced the coup and the newspaper was never able to prove its accusation. After that, Correa sued the newspaper, judges came and went, the newspaper was fined, it would not pay, the owners were jailed, great outcry in the US media, particularly the Washington Post, and Correa pardoned them. All very messy.

The part about “every major human rights group and international press freedom monitor” condemning Correa might refer to Inter-American Human Rights Commission, which is in Washington. It slammed Correa for persecuting the newspaper’s owners. This commission passes judgment on all Latin American countries while the US itself is not a signatory, which is quite imperialist if you ask me.

.

11

Blanche Davidian 06.22.12 at 8:09 pm

Ahhh, America…petulant in victory, insufferable in defeat.

12

Katherine 06.22.12 at 8:16 pm

Whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular situation, about which I know nothing, criticising the Inter-American Human Rights Commission as a tool of the US is nonsense. The Inter-American “passes judgement” on all Latin American countries because those Latin American countries are party to the Inter-American Human Rights Convention, giving them the right to report on human rights issues. In judgement terms, it is the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that does the actual judgement passing.

13

Data Tutashkhia 06.22.12 at 8:24 pm

If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy…

What? This is insane, how could he: Castro is still alive.

14

lupita 06.22.12 at 8:27 pm

Concerning possible trade sanctions, Ecuador exports mostly oil to the US. The US refines it and exports value-added products – gasoline, plastics – back to Ecuador and others, which is a good deal. China and Brazil would probably be happy to take over the US’s role in the business.

Other than that, Ecuador export flowers, fruits, and vegetables as part of a program to get peasants out of the drug business. Who knows what the consequences of abruptly suspending that would be in the US. In Ecuador, it is clear that some very poor people would suffer.

15

Some Physics Bro 06.22.12 at 9:08 pm

I agree with the sentiment that many in the US are confused about the amount of power the US exerts in foreign nations. Further they choose to acknowledge or disavow this power when it suits their argument. (I am the same way sometimes, I am sure, if for no other reason than it is genuinely unclear to me how power the US can exert in any given country).

But I think your specific “empire” analysis here is overreach. The Washington Post is correct to put the words in quotes, as the US does not constitue an empire containing Ecaudor in the normal English sense of the word “empire”. Perhaps you are accustomed to broader uses of the word “empire” in academic discussions, but I imagine very few speakers of English would recognize it as applying to US-Ecuador relations. This is aside from discomfort over attaching the label “empire” to the US: I would gladly admit that you can say the US has an empire over Puerto Rico or somesuch. The word as normally used just doesn’t apply. It’s fine to have a technical or expanded sense of a word, its just odd to think you’ve caught someone when they follow the usual sense instead.

While I’m here, I’m curious what definition of “empire” would put the second half of the paragraph at odds with the first half. Constituting 30% percent of a countries foreign certainly makes you important to them, but it doesn’t seem like it’s sufficient to call “empire” in any reasonable sense, if for no other than it would be logically possible for a country to be a part of three empires at once. That, I would find odd. If the mere act of threatening someone with the expectation they will listen makes you an empire then I think the US empire contains every country on Earth, while the US is simultaneously contained in about eighteen other empires.

16

otto 06.22.12 at 9:37 pm

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular situation, about which I know nothing, criticising the Inter-American Human Rights Commission as a tool of the US is nonsense. The Inter-American “passes judgement” on all Latin American countries because those Latin American countries are party to the Inter-American Human Rights Convention, giving them the right to report on human rights issues. In judgement terms, it is the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that does the actual judgement passing.”

Okay, but the US being out and the Latin American countries being in a human rights regime based in DC is not, perhaps, random. They are pressured to be in by the US and they cannot pressure the US in return to participate. So it’s quite possible to see the Inter-American etc as a US foreign policy instrument enabling asymmetric interventions in Latin America, despite what you say above.

17

JW Mason 06.22.12 at 9:46 pm

Castro is still alive.

Castro is chief enemy emeritus.

18

Martin Bento 06.22.12 at 9:49 pm

Isn’t it strange that the US is getting so involved in a Swedish rape case? This is supposedly about a common-law crime, not a political matter, and the alleged crime did not take place on US soil and is therefore not under US jurisdiction. Why would the US retaliate in any way? Of course, we all know why, yet we are expected to treat this as an ordinary criminal case. The fact that the Assange prosecution is political (if the US is sabre-rattling, I don’t think that can be disputed. And if it rises to threatening trade relations, is there even precedent for such a thing? Granted, this is officially the WP, not the USG, but I don’t think the WP would be pushing this kind of loose talk if it did not have reason to believe the government agreed with it) does not prove Assange is innocent, but it does prove that the wheels of justice are not turning properly, and parties with no legitimate involvement are very strongly involved. In that situation, we should not be expected to treat it as a simple rape case.

19

rici 06.22.12 at 10:46 pm

lupita:

All Latin American countries denounced the coup and the newspaper was never able to prove its accusation. After that, Correa sued the newspaper, judges came and went, the newspaper was fined, it would not pay, the owners were jailed, great outcry in the US media, particularly the Washington Post, and Correa pardoned them. All very messy.

You somehow forgot to mention that the fine was for forty million dollars, half of what Correa requested on the charge that the newspaper had impugned his honour. (That’s a bit rich given the abuse Correa has heaped on the press over the years, in which words like “mafia” and “corrupt” are slung around freely.) It is that astronomically exaggerated assessment of the injury done to Correa, and not the size or nature of the defendants’ business, which distinguishes this particular lawsuit from the mass of “12,409 judgements in libel cases in [Ecuador]” (quoted from the open letter, link below).

Also, why would the list of countries in which a newspaper is registered be relevant to the question of liberty of expression? (By the way, in another context I might call “cita requerida”, but that could get tiresome here. In case it’s relevant, you can search for the RUC 0990019657001 in the Ecuadorian registry which seems to indicate that a newspaper is registered in Ecuador.)

The fact is, Correa is not a fan of the freedom of the press. You only have to look at the open letter (PDF in Spanish) he wrote “pardoning but not forgetting” the incident referred to, which makes his feelings completely clear. (“It’s the clearest example of the fight between the Rule of Opinion against the Rule of Law, the dictatorship of the media versus the true democracy.”)

Or the campaign in favour of the referendum question on the creation of a counsel to regulate the media. (I particularly liked the flying snake.)

I’d say that Correa, like the paranoid right to his north, constructs a straw warrior in order to legitimate a counter-campaign. (But, in his case, why? He is, after all, the president.)

Of course, it probably is true that the Ecuadorian media is largely right-wing, and also largely opposed to Correa, which makes this different from the bleatings about the supposedly all-powerful supposedly liberal “mainstream” media, which in reality are also largely right-wing and largely opposed to Correa when they happen to notice him.

But even granting the truth of an anti-Correa bias in the Ecuadorian media, campaigning against the media — and in the larger context, campaigning against the continental human right framework — is counter-productive and even dangerous, since it will also be used as a precedent by right-wing governments.

So, regardless of the fact that I thought that the Wikileaks document dump was brilliant, and that the US is being predictably idiotic in response (and talk about erecting straw warriors), and also what Martin Bento says, I’ve got to say that “how ironic” was also my first thought when I heard of Assange’s choice of asylum.

You know, it is actually not true that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Just saying.

20

Matt 06.22.12 at 11:11 pm

but the US being out and the Latin American countries being in a human rights regime based in DC is not, perhaps, random. They are pressured to be in by the US and they cannot pressure the US in return to participate. So it’s quite possible to see the Inter-American etc as a US foreign policy instrument enabling asymmetric interventions in Latin America, despite what you say above.

Do you have any evidence for this, Otto? It doesn’t jibe at all with what the lawyers I know who work with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and court say or think.

As for the trade preferences, the US Generalized System of Preferences has pretty much always been conditional on all sorts of things. (This was long true of the EU system of preferences, too, though they have changed somewhat, from what I understand.) I don’t think this is a good system. I’d rather that lower or no tariffs be the rule for developing and less developed countries. But it’s not as if conditionality is new here. It’s also worth noting that the result of losing GSP is getting the normal WTO negotiated tariffs- that is, getting the same rate as most countries, just not a special rate.

21

gordon 06.22.12 at 11:30 pm

rici (at 17): “You know, it is actually not true that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Just saying”.

So how did the US become allied with Soviet Russia in WWII if not for “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Maybe Roosevelt was secretly a communist?

22

Jeff R. 06.23.12 at 12:16 am

It’s Castro, Castro, Chavez. Correa can’t break past #4 by doing anything remotely involving Assange; he’s got to outlive these guys if he ever wants to actually reach Latin American Enemy #1.

23

Keith Edwards 06.23.12 at 12:23 am

Martin Bento @16:

The rape case against Assange is sort of like the tax evasion case against Al Capone. The US Gov. can’t get him on espionage for wikileaks, like they couldn’t get Capone for racketeering, so they want to try and pin him down for something else. All they need is an excuse to get Assnage into the country for a few hours, long enough for him to mysteriously disappear/ a lone patriot to shake his hand/ get married in a no fly zone.

24

lupita 06.23.12 at 12:26 am

But even granting the truth of an anti-Correa bias in the Ecuadorian media, campaigning against the media—and in the larger context, campaigning against the continental human right framework—is counter-productive and even dangerous, since it will also be used as a precedent by right-wing governments.

My reading of the Correa’s letter you linked to is different from yours. I do not see it as an attack against the media but against one publisher in particular who ultimately apologized for publicly accusing him of a falsehood. Furthermore, why would you accuse Correa of paranoia as if it were unheard of that an oligarchic media is instrumental in leading a country to war under false pretenses, as in the US, or in overthrowing a left-wing government in Latin America, particularly in the historical context of CIA-backed coups and US military occupations? Why does the right of free speech take precedence over our collective right to self-determination – not being invaded and/or our democratically elected governments overthrown?

Neither is Correa campaigning against human rights. He had the support of countries like Brazil and Peru, and ultimately of the OAS assembly, to reform the Commission. At another level, this is also happening to the OAS as a whole and to global institutions such as the UNSC, WTO, IMF, and World Bank. Latin American countries are demanding that our be voices heard at these institutions and our values and priorities, which are the product of our histories and cultures, be acknowledged.

It would also be nice if our countries, leaders, and aspirations were not ridiculed by the US media, but that would be asking too much.

25

rici 06.23.12 at 1:59 am

lupita@22:

My reading of the Correa’s letter you linked to is different from yours. I do not see it as an attack against the media but against one publisher in particular…

Maybe you didn’t read that letter to the end. It is rather prolix. Certainly the first nine pages or so are focused on El Universo, but then it starts to escalate on the bottom of page 10: Con mucha pena vemos el espíritu de cuerpo, incluso de respetable prensa internacional, [With much regret, we see the team spirit, even including the respectable international press…]

By the bottom of page 11, judges are trembling at the power of the dictatorship of the media. (los jueces temblaran y se sometieran a la presión mediática.) By page 13, the CIDH has been implicated for assuming crusades, “real or imaginary”, whose target are the public administrations of South America, all failing under the inexorable power of the media.

Fortunately, we have Raphael Correa, ciudadano extraordinario, fighting on our side; by page 17 he has achieved que los ciudadanos del Ecuador y de toda nuestra América superen el miedo a esa prensa que actúa de manera corrupta y abusiva [that the citizens of Ecuador and all of our America beat the fear of this press which acts in an abusive and corrupt manner]

So, yes, I think that letter reflects Correa’s view of the media as a whole, and that he regards El Universo as more or less representative, if possibly somewhat worse than others. And, while I didn’t actually accuse him of paranoia — that adjective was directed at the paranoid right of the US — I did accuse him of constructing straw warriors in order to blow them down, or more accurately, in a policy of populism. (Still, I ask impartial readers: if my resume of Correa’s letter is correct, would the word “paranoia” not be somewhat plausible? It is obviously much easier to be paranoid when someone is trying to get you…)

I take my definition and analysis of populism mostly from Ernesto Laclau, by the way; the construction of a battle between the pueblo and the unjust powers preventing the victory of the pueblo.

Like Laclau, I think that all political struggles are to a greater or lesser extent populist, and that populist tactics are not necessarily bad, even sometimes necessary.

And, you know, I mostly agree with you about Latin America; I’m sure we would agree on a lot more than we would disagree. Certainly I agree that the US and Europe have been and continue to be pretty exploitive, and that they will do what they can get away with to maintain hegemony.

But I do disagree with you about the CIDH. I think they do reflect the values of Latin Americans, and even of Latin Americans I respect. Weakening the protection of human rights would not be a good thing. For example, Peru would undoubtedly use that to mitigate the possibility of being criticised for the extrajudicial murders at the Japanese embassy, and it is precisely the prospect of being forced to revisit that appalling incident that lead to Peru’s support for “reform”. And this from a government which is nominally left-leaning (or at least, that’s what they lead us to believe when they were asking for our votes).

26

rici 06.23.12 at 2:11 am

oh, and gordon@21 (last time I looked):

An ally is not necessarily a friend. Clearly Roosevelt was not a communist and he did not become one because of the strategic alliance. I doubt whether he even laughed at Stalin’s jokes.

Correa has undoubtedly done lots of good things for his country, and much of the international criticism against him is unjustified. But he can be completely out to lunch about other things.

27

LFC 06.23.12 at 3:46 am

Matt:
the US Generalized System of Preferences has pretty much always been conditional on all sorts of things.

My impression, based on fragmentary and perhaps outdated info, is that the GSP is something of a mess and that, e.g., the worker-rights and perhaps other conditions have been applied inconsistently, at best. But yanking preferences for Ecuador over the Assange case would be unjustified, imo.

28

Matt 06.23.12 at 4:08 am

But yanking preferences for Ecuador over the Assange case would be unjustified, imo.
I agree- though I’m not sure if anyone other than some jerk at the Washington Post is actually suggesting it.

I think that it’s uncontroversial that the GSP would be better at promoting growth, and better for the US, too, if it was made unconditional except perhaps based on the level of development of the country. (*) But, they have never actually been used that way, and have been made conditional on all sorts of silly things, and it’s well known that they are conditional, so the claim that something _especially_ imperialistic is being done here seems too strong to me.

(*) Actually, if I were designing them I _might_ make them conditional on the benefiting state reducing tariffs on good from other states that benefit from GSP, as at least in the past these were the most burdensome tariffs that most developing countries faced- ones they placed on each other. I’m far from sure on this, though.

29

Watson Ladd 06.23.12 at 4:14 am

Let me get this right: when a country does something another country doesn’t approve of, the first country absolutely cannot chose to stop buying things from the second. This is a very strange principle: it would seem to block any sort of sanctions from ever being considered.

30

Tom T. 06.23.12 at 4:31 am

re 18: “Granted, this is officially the WP, not the USG, but I don’t think the WP would be pushing this kind of loose talk if it did not have reason to believe the government agreed with it”

Fred Hiatt et al. at the WaPo editorial board would be thrilled to hear that people think they speak with that kind of authority. They’re just repeating a cute idea they heard from someone at a cocktail reception.

31

Emma in Sydney 06.23.12 at 4:35 am

Assange is gambling that Ecuador will protect him from rendition to the United States better than his native country, Australia, will, and certainly better than Sweden will, once he is extradited there. On past form, that seems like a good bet, because other Australians have been tortured in black sites, detained for years in Guantanamo and so on, without the Australian government saying a cross word to its great and powerful friend, the United States.

It’s not clear what is in it for Ecuador, however, which is the point the Washington Post is making, and which is no doubt exercising the minds of Ecuadorian government officials as they talk to the recalled ambassador to Britain tonight.

It is shameful to have a government which won’t protect its citizens. Must be worse to have a government known for illegal kidnapping, torturing and detaining without trial, citizens of other countries all over the world. As Charles Pierce says often, ‘that’s your democracy, America. Cherish it’.

32

Tom T. 06.23.12 at 4:50 am

And there’s a certain naivete to the editorial. Assange is already working for Putin; why would he be troubled by Correa?

33

Meredith 06.23.12 at 5:00 am

Thanks to Henry for the great catch (whatever the exact import of those quotation marks), and also to Some Physics Bro for raising questions about our use of words like “empire.” Good to raise those questions, which move the discourse (back) to issues not just of power (or powerlessness) — what’s wrong with power in itself (the world’s powerless sure could use more)? — but also of accountability, of whose interests power is serving, and so forth.

34

Chad 06.23.12 at 5:02 am

@Watson Ladd 29:

Thank you, if liberalism means you mustn’t be able to decide who you do and don’t conduct trade with then I’ve been beholden to the wrong ideology.

I understand that Assange is something of a pet cat on the left and I agree altering our trade relations with a country simply because of him would be foolish but jeez almighty if Correa is actively working to strain relations with us then I’d think that he’d be the one responsible for the welfare of his own 400,000 people.

It seems patronizing to insist that despite denunciations of the United States we should still trade with Ecuador because the citizens of Ecuador really need our help. Obviously Correa has his own plans.

35

adam.smith (was Sebastian(1)) 06.23.12 at 5:07 am

I agree with QS @4 – this is a great catch Henry.
Also agree with @19 rici – there is an odd tendency on the American left to to identify with anyone who sounds like a lefty and is disliked by the DC establishment. That’s a bad idea.

36

Randy McDonald 06.23.12 at 5:13 am

What does “empire” mean? A clarification is necessary; “asymmetrical power relationship” is insufficient for my tastes.

37

dr ngo 06.23.12 at 5:47 am

Koebner & Schmidt wrote over 400 pages about the meaning of the word “Imperialism” , and that was almost fifty years ago. I’ve taught in year-long courses on the subject, and come far from exhausting it. So clarification may be necessary, but it will hardly be easy.

38

Brett 06.23.12 at 5:50 am

I’m not buying the “empire” definition, either, since the US would just be withholding privileges in its own territory, not intervening in Ecuador’s. All countries try to pressure other countries to adopt certain policies, and trade is just one common arena for that.

In Assange’s case, he should really be more worried. Ecuador does have an extradition treaty with the US, so if they ever decided it was too costly to keep him . . .

39

Emma in Sydney 06.23.12 at 6:14 am

Seems I had too many links in my post for it to pass moderation. Ah well.

40

lupita 06.23.12 at 6:18 am

What does “empire” mean?

It means the current world order, Pax Americana or American hegemony in English, “imperio” in Spanish and its equivalent in most other languages.

It refers to the military dominance of the US and its allies in Europe over many regions of the planet and the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It refers to New York and London as financial centers with the support of institutions such as the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank and agreements from Bretton Woods to Basel III. Its ideology is neoliberalism. Its reserve currency is the US dollar. It has enabled capital to flow from poor countries to rich and the Gini coefficient of most countries and the world as a whole to rise. It means financial meltdowns in Latin America, Asia, and Russia and more recently Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Greece, and Spain.

It is coming to an end.

41

J. Otto Pohl 06.23.12 at 7:21 am

While I agree that the word empire can have multiple meanings. The British, French, and Portuguese Empires were considerably different from the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires in their basic structures. I think the current trend to refer to all instances of a “assymetrical power relationship” between the US and other countries as imperialism is not very helpful. Are such assymetrical relationships between Russia and other former Soviet states also imperialism? What about France and its former African colonies? Under this definition it seems that a lot of former empires never died. But, are Togo and Ivory Coast really part of a French Empire? And if not how can Ecquador which has far less US influence be part of an American Empire?

42

Brett 06.23.12 at 7:25 am

@Lupita

It has enabled capital to flow from poor countries to rich

More like the reverse, particularly considering China’s imports of FDI. Even then, the poor countries have never really been significant sources of trade or revenue for the rich countries outside of China and a handful of other countries – most trade and capital from rich countries flows into other rich countries.

43

Data Tutashkhia 06.23.12 at 8:58 am

Capital flows to poor countries, cheap labor is added there, goods flow back to rich countries. Just another way to exploit. Perceived, currently, as all but noble, or, at the very least, unobjectionable.

44

soullite 06.23.12 at 12:13 pm

There’s something seriously wrong with people who think shutting down a coup-supporting organization (no matter what ostensible purpose it may have served) is ‘anti-free speech’.

‘Free Speech’ doesn’t generally cover treason. And yes, spreading propaganda to assist in the institution of a fascist dictatorship is certainly treason.

45

Katherine 06.23.12 at 12:27 pm

but the US being out and the Latin American countries being in a human rights regime based in DC is not, perhaps, random. They are pressured to be in by the US and they cannot pressure the US in return to participate. So it’s quite possible to see the Inter-American etc as a US foreign policy instrument enabling asymmetric interventions in Latin America, despite what you say above.

Like Matt said above, I’ve seen zero evidence of this. Is there evidence for your assertion that the US pressures Latin American countries to be in?

46

Katherine 06.23.12 at 12:32 pm

The rape case against Assange is sort of like the tax evasion case against Al Capone.

Please note that this does make Assange innocent of the charge of rape, just as Al Capone was not, in fact, innocent of tax evasion.

All they need is an excuse to get Assnage into the country for a few hours, long enough for him to mysteriously disappear/ a lone patriot to shake his hand/ get married in a no fly zone.

And it would be difficult for Assange to disappear into a plane in the dead of night never to be seen again (a) because Sweden has requested his extradition, and (b) everyone would notice. He’s not some nameless, faceless Arab after all – he’s a white British man who everyone has heard of.

47

Harold 06.23.12 at 12:58 pm

48

Harold 06.23.12 at 1:04 pm

Chalmers Johnson had this to say about the American Empire:

http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

49

Chris Bertram 06.23.12 at 1:10 pm

Of course, the United States has been an empire pretty much since its inception. Certainly if the eastward expansion of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries into territories inhabited by non-Russian peoples counts as an imperial project, the westward expansion of the USA beyond the original colonies is something rather similar.

50

Katherine 06.23.12 at 1:33 pm

Please note that this does make Assange innocent of the charge of rape

Argh! I meant does not make Assange innocent.

51

Henry 06.23.12 at 1:43 pm

J. Otto Pohl – we’ve already had this go around and I’ve provided you with links to the academic scholarship on empire, which you complained was political science jargon with weird drawings. It’s not – but if you can’t be bothered to try to understand it, I can’t be bothered to explain it.

What Katherine said in #46. Also, just because the government’s out to get you doesn’t mean that you’re not a paranoid.

52

bianca steele 06.23.12 at 2:31 pm

Not to be overly cynical, but I’m guessing there’s a good chance the WP editors wanted to say something about Correa but know there’s nothing about the word “Ecuador” that will make most readers look twice (myself included), so they spiced the piece up by linking him to a celebrity. But there’d be nothing to talk about.

53

Randy McDonald 06.23.12 at 2:31 pm

Chris Bertram:

“Of course, the United States has been an empire pretty much since its inception. Certainly if the eastward expansion of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries into territories inhabited by non-Russian peoples counts as an imperial project, the westward expansion of the USA beyond the original colonies is something rather similar.”

There’s no question about that, although I’d argue that the eventual assimilation of the acquired territories and their populations into the United States proper makes allegations of current-day imperialism in Oregon or Iowa or Michigan rather more problematic. (Is France being imperialist in keeping Alsace in 2012, as opposed to–say–1919?)

It’s just not obvious that Ecuador is a subject of any American empire. Ecuador lies outside of the Caribbean basin area where the United States did exercise itself as a very empire-like power; Ecuador hasn’t been subjected to any American occupation at all. Ecuador’s foreign conflicts haven’t been visibly linked to geopolitical currents outside South America, the conflicts with Peru over Amazonian territory originating as purely bilateral events. The country _does_ use the US dollar as its currency, but the choice of that currency was a consequence of domestic policy in Ecuador, not forced on the country by the United States. Ecuador’s economy is dependent on foreign trade, and on remittances from migrants, but at least in terms of migrant numbers Spain ranks alongside the United States in importance as a destination.

Yes, it’s quite conceivable that the United States could apply economic pressure on Ecuador to pressure Ecuador into doing whatever it wants. If that’s the sole definition of “empire”, then that category has lost most of its meaningfulness.

54

Adam Roberts 06.23.12 at 2:34 pm

#46 ‘Assange is not some nameless, faceless Arab after all – he’s a white British man who everyone has heard of.’

Assange is Australian; but — point taken.

55

bob mcmanus 06.23.12 at 2:47 pm

the eventual assimilation of the acquired territories and their populations into the United States

Is this the new name for Genocide?

If the Russians had just completely exterminated the indigenous populations in the territories that acquired we wouldn’t have worried about nationalities questions or the rights of Ukrainians.

Where do you think Adolf got his plan? From the United States.

56

Roger Gathman 06.23.12 at 3:04 pm

I’m glad we have some people who are on the case about the oppression in Ecuador. It is monstrous. The United States should be urged by the Post, I hope, to continue to have special relations only with oil exporting democracies, like Saudi Arabia, who understand all about freedom of the press.

57

Sebastian H 06.23.12 at 4:05 pm

“Why would the US retaliate in any way? Of course, we all know why, yet we are expected to treat this as an ordinary criminal case. “

To be clear, there is no indication that the US would/will/is considering retaliating against Ecuador in this or any way. This is an editorial in a newspaper.

58

bob mcmanus 06.23.12 at 4:12 pm

makes allegations of current-day imperialism in Oregon or Iowa or Michigan rather more problematic.

Interesting question. If the British had say done an total extermination in Kenya in the 19th so there was nothing left in Kenya today but white British and no one alive outside who could make a claim, who could gainsay that Kenya was Britain? Problematic indeed.

Nations like Japan knew what America was and what we had done by the 2nd half of the 19th. They understood us better than we do ourselves. And then came the Philippines.
Would the Japanese have been exterminated? Well, thank Buddha there was no Sutter’s mill.

59

wilfred 06.23.12 at 4:15 pm

Thw Wapo editorial page is the last bastion of the ziocons. Hiatt blithely dismissed charges of the outright Arabophobia of his darling Jennifer Rubin with some nonsense worthy of, well, zio-conservatism.

Assange? Well, he recently interviewed Hassan Nasrallah on RT, along with a survivor of Gitmoterroism. That alone places him squarely within the ‘giving material aid to the wogs/terrorists’ that is already proven grounds for rendition or disappearing.

He’s a threat. He’s wise to seek asylum. People who don’t like threats, or the bullies that make them, would be wise to support him.

60

chris 06.23.12 at 4:20 pm

@55: Practically every ethnic group’s rights to the land they are on now is founded on some more ancient Volkerwanderung, often accompanied by invasions, genocide (attempted or completed), and/or a trail of tears. Anglo-Saxons in England are only one of the best understood examples (that is, we know approximately who arrived when and where they came from). On this point, at least, there really is no reason to single out the US.

61

LFC 06.23.12 at 4:38 pm

Daniel Nexon & Thomas Wright, “What’s at Stake in the American Empire Debate” (Am. Pol. Sci. Rev., May 2007) [a piece to which Henry previously referred J Otto Pohl] argues that US foreign policy has certain qualities/dynamics associated with ‘informal’ empires, i.e., ‘indirect rule’ through local elites and ‘heterogeneous contracting,’ i.e., the ‘core’ striking different sorts of arrangements with ‘peripheral’ polities. If the US yanked Ecuador’s trade preferences while not yanking other similarly situated countries’ preferences, that would definitely be ‘heterogeneous contracting’. On the other hand, I’m not sure if there are any ‘local intermediaries’ through which the US exercises ‘indirect rule’ in Ecuador. Nexon and Wright suggest that both features are required; from p.266 of their article: “Whenever relations between or among two or more political organizations involve indirect rule and heterogeneous contracting, their interactions will develop at least some of the dynamics associated with imperial control” (emphasis added). I don’t know much about Ecuador, unfortunately, but on the Nexon/Wright approach you need more than simply ‘asymmetric power relations’ (Pohl’s phrase) to conclude that Ecuador-US relations show “the dynamics associated with imperial control.”

62

William Timberman 06.23.12 at 4:47 pm

Except, Chris, that the US is in the here and now, and so are we. I can’t do anything about the past. In the present, I can point out that the uses we make of the past are mostly defenses of a future we hope to create now, and that therefore not all of those uses are equally honorable. For example, Newt Gingrich, for example, considers himself a historian. I doubt that all those heaps of dead from the past would approve of the uses to which he, in particular, has put them.

63

William Timberman 06.23.12 at 4:51 pm

Ugh! First of all, my 62 is a response to Chris @ 60, and if we all could just pretend that my first for example in that last sentence wasn’t there, I’d be very grateful.

64

Andrew F. 06.23.12 at 5:50 pm

So on the one hand, the Washington Post believes that the notion that the US has an ‘empire’ is self-evidently ridiculous.

The quotes are used both to indicate that the word “empire” is being used in a non-standard or non-ordinary fashion, and to avoid taking any position on the accuracy of the term.

On the other hand, it suggests that if Ecuador is impertinent enough to host an individual whom the US doesn’t like (but would have a hard time pressing charges against), it should and will express its displeasure by crippling Ecuador’s economy and threatening the livelihood of 400,000 of its citizens.

Well… that seems like an awfully tendentious summary of the editorial.

I read it as stating that if Correa decides to adopt a resolutely anti-American stance (not merely “hosting” Assange), the US need not continue to open its own market to Correa.

Reading such a measure – by itself – as an indication of empire is a stretch, imho. By such a reading, country A might maintain no military or intelligence capabilities of any sort abroad, maintain no proxies abroad, fund no organizations of influence abroad, and have a foreign policy the sole lever of which is the granting of access to country A’s domestic markets – and yet somehow constitute an empire. And somehow country A’s decision not to allow country B to ship goods to country A is then translated into an imperialist act.

Most Americans would reject this description of imperialism because they view such an act as an essential part of national self-determination: the nation decides who gets to access its markets, and who does not – no one else.

So, even if you assumed that the Post’s use of scare quotes indicated skepticism about the term, you’re not seeing doublethink. You’re seeing a conventional understanding of empire and imperialism – an understanding different from your own perhaps, but not an understanding that renders the Post editorial self-contradictory, which is what is required for something to really be doublethink.

65

lupita 06.23.12 at 6:06 pm

Brett: the poor countries have never really been significant sources of trade or revenue for the rich
Data: Capital flows to poor countries

Capital flows from poor to rich countries. The evidence is everywhere. Global capital flows are actually measured: the net flows from poor countries to rich were $557 billion in 2010; they peaked at $881 billion in 2007. The IMF, WB, Fed, and US economists have papers with titles such as “Why Doesn’t Capital Flow from Rich Countries to Poor?” and “The River Flows Upstream”. They use words such as “paradox”, “conundrum”, and “puzzle”. I use imperialism.

I gave a brief definition of empire upthread. I would like to add another notable characteristic: Populations in core countries are mostly unaware of its existence while you will never hear a 3rd worlder asking, “Empire? What empire? What do you mean by empire?” anymore than you would hear a Greek asking “Crisis? What crisis are you talking about?” Maybe it is like pornography, you know it when you see it. When the empire strikes, you know what struck you.

66

R.Mutt 06.23.12 at 6:27 pm

Please note that this does [not] make Assange innocent of the charge of rape

Assange hasn’t been formally charged with anything. There was an Interpol warrant for his arrest because Sweden wanted to question him one more time, and for some reason refused to do this in England even though that would have been possible and reasonable (see point 16).

67

Asteele 06.23.12 at 6:32 pm

60: Is this really true, are there big geographically dispersed genocides in the historical record, say pre-early capitalism, honestly I can’t think of any. The current consensus on the Britons for example isn’t that they were wiped out by the Anglo-saxons, but that they were ruled and then culturally absorbed by them.

68

Katherine 06.23.12 at 6:34 pm

Assange hasn’t been formally charged with anything.

That still does mean he didn’t rape someone. Geez.

69

Harold 06.23.12 at 6:39 pm

The charges are that he had “condomless” sex with two women, according to wikipedia.

70

Keith Edwards 06.23.12 at 6:39 pm

Katherine @ 46:
I wasn’t speaking to the merits of Assange’s rape case. Not my purview as I’m not a judge, I was just making an analogy.

And I don’t think he’d really be smacked with a drone, just that his plane might have some unforeseen technical problems that extend his layover long enough for some men in suits to ask him a few uncomfortable questions in a room with no windows.

71

Harold 06.23.12 at 6:51 pm

I should have said he has been accused (rather than “the charges are”).

72

rici 06.23.12 at 6:59 pm

Andrew F.: Do you really believe this?

Most Americans would reject this description of imperialism because they view such an act as an essential part of national self-determination: the nation decides who gets to access its markets, and who does not – no one else.

My only knowledge about the US comes from probably unreliable sources, but I was rather under the impression that the “most Americans” who usually show up in this sort of sentence would be outraged if the national government abrogated to itself the choice of legitimate seller of a good.

73

R.Mutt 06.23.12 at 7:33 pm

That still does mean he didn’t rape someone. Geez.

It does?

74

Thomas from Sweden 06.23.12 at 7:50 pm

The idea that Assange should be extradited from Sweden to USA is IMHO absurd. Emma brought up an earlier case with two Egyptians who was handed over to CIA in a most illegal fashion, but the political fallout of that one was pretty bad. The political price for helping USA in a case with such a well known person is simply too high since the only charges USA could bring would be purely political.

The rape case itself is pretty strange, but I think it has more to do with an over ambitious and unflexible prosecutor than any conspiracy to help USA. Once the charge of rape was brought up Assange has to be heard, and I’m not sure there is any rule saying this can be done in England. It would be amusing if Assange after all this time is caught, flown over to Sweden, interrogated and the charges are then dropped.

75

Nine 06.23.12 at 8:19 pm

“So, even if you assumed that the Post’s use of scare quotes indicated skepticism about the term, you’re not seeing doublethink. You’re seeing a conventional understanding of empire and imperialism”

A remarkable piece of close reading . One would have to assume a very great amount of unsophistication on the part of the Post to come to this conclusion, the folks at the Post are surely more than aware of the various “understandings” of empire & the relation of the US to the same. The scare quotes are likely a straightforward case of eye-rolling at “those tiresome anti-american hippie academic activiscts with giant signs” etc. In other word, Henry’s is correct.

76

Phil 06.23.12 at 9:31 pm

Shorter: “if Correa wants US imperialism, we’ll give him US imperialism”.

Even shorter: “I’ll give you something to cry about”.

77

John Quiggin 06.23.12 at 10:05 pm

Re Andrew F, DNFTT

78

Watson Ladd 06.23.12 at 10:15 pm

Arguably the destruction of the second temple and Assyrian and Babylonian policies towards those they conquered constituted genocide. Population transfers were carried out with the aim of ensuring that the new regions would be populated by Assyrians. The Romans of course exiled the Jews, who remained in exile for 2,000 more years. Egyptian policy in Nubia was one of Egyptianization.

79

Hank 06.23.12 at 10:15 pm

I think we are rather overestimating Mr. Assange.s importance. His own childishness has pretty much neutralized any future threat he may pose. Yes, he should not step on US soil but if an indictment is ever brought I can’t imagine any more forign policy action than a pro forma extradition request.

Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

80

purple 06.23.12 at 10:18 pm

I don’t think the U.S. wants to try Assange, at least, they should be smarter. Maybe they aren’t at this point.

They would just like to see him convicted in Sweden and have that taint.

81

gordon 06.24.12 at 1:03 am

82

Andrew F. 06.24.12 at 2:03 am

Nine @74, Eh, look they’re all good interpretations. The Post is derisive about the idea of “the emptire” and so indicates with use of scare quotes; the Post is using quotes to indicate that it’s Correa’s desription for the US, not the Post’s, (e.g. “so, this “empire” as you call it, you think…); the Post is noting that the word “empire” used here is being used in a somewhat special sense, and uses quotes to alter reads to that fact. They all work.

But more interesting than what the WP “really thought” about the “empire” term, is how in Henry’s view this equates to doublespeak.

Sidenote: John Quiggin, sometimes I agree on these threads, sometimes I disagree, but I try to focus on the subject, to engage others respectfully, and to enjoy – even learn – from the comments and suggestions. That I happen to disagree with Henry in this case – I’ve agreed with him in other cases – doesn’t make me a troll. If you come across something that you believe constitutes trolling, let me know. If you have something specific to say about a comment of mine that I can use, I welcome it. But if you’re merely going to insult (as you have numerously now), then do us all a favor and stop adding to the clutter with mis-applied “DNFTT.” Thanks.

83

John Quiggin 06.24.12 at 4:57 am

Andrew F, I didn’t realise you were part of the CT collective now. I’ll obey your orders in future.

To be clear, I find your comments almost invariably unhelpful and a distraction from discussion. I’d prefer it if others ignored them. However, I’m happy to hear from others on this topic. If readers generally find your comments, and the responses the elicit, interesting, I’ll accept that it’s a matter of taste.

84

Brett 06.24.12 at 4:58 am

@lupita

Capital flows from poor to rich countries. The evidence is everywhere. Global capital flows are actually measured: the net flows from poor countries to rich were $557 billion in 2010; they peaked at $881 billion in 2007. The IMF, WB, Fed, and US economists have papers with titles such as “Why Doesn’t Capital Flow from Rich Countries to Poor?” and “The River Flows Upstream”. They use words such as “paradox”, “conundrum”, and “puzzle”. I use imperialism.

Does that include the billions China drives back into US treasury bonds to prevent their currency from inflating in value?

@Data Tutashkia

Capital flows to poor countries, cheap labor is added there, goods flow back to rich countries. Just another way to exploit. Perceived, currently, as all but noble, or, at the very least, unobjectionable.

The poor countries get wage income, investment, and usually technology that leaks out. China started out as a final assembly place for foreign corporations, and moved on from there.

85

J. Otto Pohl 06.24.12 at 6:37 am

Look Empire usually means some sort of territorial control over ethnically distinct periphial areas and a pretense to long term sovereign rule over these lands. It also is subjective in that the perception of the periphery matters a great deal in whether a relationship is called colonial. This rule can be indirect, but it is by no means obvious that this is the case in Ecuador. Again why is it that far more influnetial relationships like France over much of West Africa or Russia over much of former Soviet Central Asia are never described here as part of Empire? I have not been to Ecaudor, but I am currently in Kyrgyzstan and Russian influence is a lot greater here than US influence is in any foreign country I have ever been to. The US does not have anywhere near as much influence over Ghana where I work for instance. Russian influence in Kyrgyzstan is not, however, referred to by anybody here as imperial. Nor was Soviet rule. Primarily because the key components of economic exploitation and subjective feelings by the local population of being colonized were lacking. So do people in Ecuador feel that the US controls their government for the purpose of economically exploiting them? And what is this based on?

86

John Quiggin 06.24.12 at 7:00 am

@JOP A quick Google search reveals many references to Russian neo-imperialism, trans-imperialism and so on, as well as quite a few for imperialism tout court
http://www.economist.com/node/21540988
French influence in West Africa is more commonly described as neo-colonial or post-colonial.

87

Data Tutashkhia 06.24.12 at 7:04 am

@Brett The poor countries get wage income, investment, and usually technology that leaks out. China started out as a final assembly place for foreign corporations, and moved on from there.

Sure, the Romans brought irrigation, sanitation, wine, and other good things. These are, however, only side effects. The bottom line is: they work, what they produce is shipped away.

88

faustusnotes 06.24.12 at 7:18 am

rici, have you cast your eye over what’s happening in the media in Britain at the moment? There are a lot of countries that could benefit by adopting a few measures to curtail the “freedom” of the press, since this freedom is clearly being deployed in the interests of plutocracy and (in Murdoch’s case) war and mass murder.

I think it would be refreshing indeed if the Sun and its ilk were slapped with a 40 million dollar fine every time they told lies about a politician they didn’t like (or an asylum seeker, or a gay family, or…) I think it would be nice if Gina Rinehart were legally prevented from sacking editors whose opinion she disagrees with. Maybe it would be a good idea if some liberal “democracies” adopted a few of Correa’s ideas about a slightly more robust form of media regulation.

89

Randy McDonald 06.24.12 at 3:02 pm

Arguing that the retention of Iowa and Oregon et cetera by the United States now is the action of an empire, or proof of an actually existing empire, is “imperialist” in the same way that the retention of Alsace by France is imperialist, or Hokkaido by Japan, or Yucatan by Mexico, or …

Imperialism has to be tightly defined. If we’re talking about territories that were conquered at one point, but are now–at least a century later–populated by people who are content with those territories’ current allegiances, what does imperialism actually mean if it’s used to represent this state of affairs? And how far do you have to go back before something _stops_ being imperial?

local popularity

90

Sebastian H 06.24.12 at 4:53 pm

“The charges are that he had “condomless” sex with two women, according to wikipedia.”

Come on. Having sex with someone against their consent is rape. It doesn’t matter it they failed to give consent because God told them to wait for marriage, because you aren’t their partner, because they ate something funny last night, or because they don’t want to have sex without a condom. The allegation is that she told Assange she wouldn’t have sex without a condom, and then he waited until she was asleep before penetrating her without a condom.

That would be rape in the US, Australia, Canada, the UK and as it happens, Sweden.

91

Harold 06.24.12 at 5:59 pm

Um, Sebastian, how, exactly, do you know for certain what what was said and what transpired during these private, consensual encounters?

92

Katherine 06.24.12 at 6:16 pm

That, dear boy, is the point of an investigation, which Assange has being fleeing. You can’t quote “facts” from Wikipedia, in order to exonerate Assange, and then complain when someone presents a different version of those facts.

93

Andrew F. 06.24.12 at 6:22 pm

Let me try this from a different angle.

“Empire” as used in popular discourse and in the sense that Correa might use it is loaded with normative implications.

Whether the US is an “imperial power” vis-a-vis certain aspects of its relations with foreign entities in the specialized sense the term might be used in international relations theory, and whether the US “is an empire” in the ordinary sense (with normative implications) used by Correa are not identical questions.

The sentiment in Henry’s post (and I may be misunderstanding it) is that these two questions are identical. The Washington Post denies that America is an “empire,” and then advocates the use of an asymmetric relationship in the context of a heterogeneous compact that forms part of a rimless hub-and-spoke network to informally and indirectly influence a peripheral entity. Henry’s point seems to be that once the latter is recognized as imperial, it will lose its legitimacy. But, of course, the specialized meaning of “imperial” is one deprived of the kind of normative charge that the ordinary meaning of “imperial” carries.

It is only by eliding the distinction between these two meanings that one can point to the Washington Post piece as an instance of doublethink supportive of imperial policies (in either sense).

94

lupita 06.24.12 at 7:10 pm

Having sex with someone against their consent is rape.

Perhaps noting how the definition of rape has evolved since women began to have a say in the matter would help with a definition of imperialism.

The notion that an there has to be a military invasion (Central American and Caribbean countries are part of the American empire, but not Ecuador) is the equivalent of a women having to sustain visible injuries in order to allege rape.

Justifying invasion or regime change because a government is socialist, islamist, or non-democratic is the equivalent of “asking for it”.

Using concepts such as “sphere of influence”, “backyard”, or the existence of a treaty to argue away imperialism is like using “marriage” or “prior sex” to deny that a rape occurred.

More contemporary notions of rape recognize that it is about power, specifically, the power of men. Rapists may no longer defend themselves by noting that the victim is not beaten up but by referring to her open consent. Consent, which is not the absence of objection, means that there were no instances of duress, blackmail, or abuse of power.

3rd world countries have been demanding representation in global institutions such as the UNSC and the IMF, to no avail, while being victims of currency attacks, having to pay Western corporations for gathering rainwater, and being prohibited from using anything other than Monsanto seeds. This is rape.

95

IM 06.24.12 at 7:19 pm

However, I’m happy to hear from others on this topic.

I thought there is rule here no to discuss moderation?

On topic: Here is the actual report from reporters without borders on press freedom:

http://en.rsf.org/IMG/CLASSEMENT_2012/C_GENERAL_ANG.pdf

In Ecuador (104th) and Bolivia (108th), whose
positions changed little, the climate was still
characterized by judicial harassment, issues of
balance and pluralism, polarization and repeated
attacks on the press.

That doesn’t looks good, but is not that unusual for South America:

This was even more
the case in Venezuela (117th), which nonetheless
rose 16 places.
Colombia (143rd), where one journalist was killed
as a direct result of his work, remained far
down the list because journalists were repeatedly
threatened, forced to stop working or forced
to flee abroad (or to another region), particularly
journalists operating in areas where there
is fighting. Despite improvements in the judicial
system, the country has not yet put its years
of civil war behind it, nor the grim practices of
the former DAS security service such as espionage,
sabotage and smear campaigns.

96

bianca steele 06.24.12 at 7:27 pm

I think to lupita’s analysis, though, we have to add the “Capone – tax evasion” charge, which seems to imply that tax evasion isn’t a real crime, and even if it is the government uses charges of tax evasion exclusively to snag political opponents, and even if they charge people with tax evasion fairly evenly that’s only ordinary people, not rich and powerful people like Al Capone who ordinarily don’t face criminal charges of any kind which is as it should be. Which is a little Randish and it’s not too hard to see how it would apply in the analogy to rape.

Paranoid or not, Correa is correct that Ecuador, like everyone else, is subject to influence by others. I think for this to be US empire, solely, in the strict sense, either the IMF would have to be taking orders from the US government, or the US would have to be some kind of sole designated enforcer for the IMF, neither of which to my knowledge is the case. Is it entirely reasonable for him to complain about US policies towards him? Sure. Is it reasonable to complain that people only care about freedom of the press because of “US empire”? I doubt it.

97

Data Tutashkhia 06.24.12 at 7:40 pm

The ‘freedom of the press’ thing sounds like pure slander. Suing for libel doesn’t violate the freedom of the press, and that’s all there is to it.

98

bob mcmanus 06.24.12 at 7:44 pm

89:Arguing that the retention of Iowa and Oregon et cetera by the United States now is the action of an empire

Well,, I would argue that, but I would argue much more. Just one a day, mods, promise.

Menzie Chinn had a thread the other day about Asian-Americans in which a commenter said this:

“It is less of a problem here; you can quite easily become an American but you can never, ever become Japanese or French or Romanian because you aren’t ethnically one of them. “

Well, yes, but when one “becomes an American” what does it mean? Who are you, what are you? I contend you are not an “American” in the way a Japanese is “Japanese” in other words tied contingently amd irremediably to a place, culture, history, tradition. I myself have lived in 5 states with wildly different traditions.. Since even our Constitution is changeable it is barely about being attached to universal values and ideas.

My contention is that to become an American is to become deracinated in principle, capable of living anywhere, including your home person over there, so extremely rootless as to devalue and be contemptuous of other’s “rootedness” or sense of place or past. This is not and can never be a true cosmopolitanism, in accepting others traditions, we despise all traditions and aggressively attack them in the name of “freedom”, economic, political, individual.

We are the country of rationalistic nihilism, and imperialistic, culturally destructive, and genocidal not simply by history or accident but in our deepest natures. And evangelical about it.

99

Data Tutashkhia 06.24.12 at 8:00 pm

My contention is that to become an American is to become deracinated in principle, capable of living anywhere, including your home person over there, so extremely rootless as to devalue and be contemptuous of other’s “rootedness” or sense of place or past.

But this seems tautological, it can be said about almost any expat anywhere. If you voluntarily uprooted yourself, obviously you don’t value ‘rootedness’ that much. You’ve transcended it, and you probably perceive those who practice it as primitive. And maybe you, sort of, got a point there.

100

Sebastian H 06.24.12 at 8:10 pm

“Um, Sebastian, how, exactly, do you know for certain what what was said and what transpired during these private, consensual encounters?”

I don’t know anything for certain. I don’t live in Sweden and have never met any of the parties involved. I related what the allegations were. The allegations, if true, would be rape, and trivializing it as “sex without a condom” is crappy.

101

Harold 06.24.12 at 8:13 pm

Katherine (92), how do you know that I was trying to, in your words, “exonerate” Asange? I am not complaining when someone “quotes a different version of events” — I was asking what evidence they had for that version. Is there a link somewhere?

102

Data Tutashkhia 06.24.12 at 8:19 pm

Perhaps those who choose to call it ‘sex without a condom’ don’t want to trivialize “rape”.
And it’s the same story, perhaps, with “bullying” vs. “imperialism”.

103

rf 06.24.12 at 8:22 pm

“Katherine (92), how do you know that I was trying to, in your words, “exonerate” Asange? “

The use of the phrase ‘um’, the use of the word ‘consensual’, the fact that the ‘evidence’ you were looking for was on the same wiki page, and the triviality implied by ‘condomless sex’

104

lupita 06.24.12 at 8:52 pm

I think for this to be US empire, solely, in the strict sense, either the IMF would have to be taking orders from the US government, or the US would have to be some kind of sole designated enforcer for the IMF, neither of which to my knowledge is the case.

In designations such “American imperialism / hegemony / century” or “Pax Americana”, the “American” part does not mean that in the current world order other nations are not buttressing the US’ role or that they do not get to do their own raping on the side. By “other nations” I mean the UK and other European nations; Japan; and Canada and Australia to a lesser degree. The “American” part means that the US is the core of the core, not that it acts alone.

105

lupita 06.24.12 at 8:59 pm

A grave omission: American imperialism includes all its 3rd world lackeys. As we all know, the history of neoliberalism starts with Pinochet.

106

Winkhorst 06.24.12 at 9:25 pm

Anderson wrote on 06.22.12 at 6:56 pm:

“Nice country you’ve got there, Correa—shame if anything happened to it.”

The old “protection” racket, huh?

There is, of course, a major difference between the Roman Empire and the United States. The Romans, with all their faults, were at least honest enough to call themselves an empire when the republic went away.

107

dictateursanguinaire 06.24.12 at 9:26 pm

That’s a bit rich given the abuse Correa has heaped on the press over the years, in which words like “mafia” and “corrupt” are slung around freely

This is a totally false equivocation.

Calling something corrupt or a popular figure of speech for ‘corrupt’ is as a statement of opinion, e.g. ‘so-and-so thing does not have integrity.’ What constitutes integrity is a matter of opinion, one that R. Correa has a right to decide.

Saying that someone ordered the murder of other people is clearly meant to be read as a fact. If the statement is false, and widely believed, that is obviously a hugely defamatory and libelous statement. That, you may be shocked to learn, is not protected by any free speech laws.

You’re equating free speech by a popularly elected official with blatant falsehood propagated by huge moneyed interests (which also, ironically, lends quite a bit of support to Correa’s opinion.)

108

Harold 06.24.12 at 10:25 pm

Rape is an inflammatory word. I was merely seeking to qualify what actually happened. Neither woman disputed that the relationship was consensual, by the way. I don’t know if this rises to the level of date rape. Both were afraid of contracting HIV or some other disease. One of the women appears to have pursued Mr. Assange. She may have been the one that dropped the allegations.

If Mr. Assange had been a gentleman he would have taken an HIV test and put their minds at rest. It would have spared him a lot of grief. Of course, he still can. But he seems to be a free spirit — and/or not entirely rational.

109

Harold 06.24.12 at 10:31 pm

110

rf 06.24.12 at 10:33 pm

No need for the link, your logic is incontestable. I’m convinced anyway

111

Watson Ladd 06.24.12 at 10:36 pm

lupita, the law in the US forbids libel suits by government bodies because it’s a backdoor to censorship. Defamation lawsuits can easily make reporters afraid of reporting on corruption or malfeasance, precisely because it is hard to prove. That is why the US malice is required: being wrong is not enough for a lawsuit. Singapore is a one-party state where libel lawsuits prevent any opposition from forming. Radio stations being shut down for minor violations because the oppose the president is censorship.

You may remember how George Bush was accused of absenteeism on the basis of national guard records that were fake. He didn’t sue CNN for slander, even though he probably could have. Why? Because he respected the norms that public officials subject themselves to treatment from the press private citizens have no obligations to endure.

“Currency attacks”. So if I hold currency, I must continue to hold it? I though everyone had a right to alienate their property.

112

John Quiggin 06.24.12 at 10:36 pm

A question to which I don’t have a fully satisfactory answer. Why is Assange required to be physically present in Sweden in order for the case against him to proceed, at least to the stage of determining whether to lay charges?

113

Marco 06.24.12 at 10:49 pm

Some of you might be interested in seeing the interview Assange conducted with Correa to understand this whole situation better. It is a great interview, whatever your political ideology is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvUwC5JTAJY

A few things are worth noting. According to Correa, the problem with the ecuadorian press is that it is elitist, oligopolistic and owned by banks. Nothing new, except for the bank part. That makes it particularly sensitive to changes that affect the financial sector in particular, and, more generally, to any political outlook that runs against the neoliberal dogma. He tried to break the oligopoly, with little success.

About american imperialism, a few things are said that may help the discussion here. Correa notes that when he became president the ecuadorian police force was paid by the u.s. and, as a consequence, was under its dominium. He broke that. They also had an american military base, that was closed until the u.s. allows ecuador to open a military base in Miami. With wikileaks, the american ambassador was caught in some embarrassing situations and refused to apologize (see 5:40), with “insolence, grandeur and imperial air”.

One interesting part about the incident is his accusation of american ambassadors in latin america still being trapped in a cold war mentality. This is a very common evaluation, and one that I totally agree with based on my experience and what I`ve read. There`s a huge deal of denial in u.s. attitudes towards latin america right now, and I think that it is worsened by the fact that the best diplomatic minds are put to service in other areas of the globe, while the mad old dogs are let to bark around in the latino backyard. I don`t like it, but I guess we shouldn`t complain too much: their ineptitude is a twisted blessing for us- at least compared with the time when the u.s. actually worried about latin america.

Correa is in a good position to question accusations of antiamericanism, as he did his phd in the u.s. and claims to love the country and its people – of course, that`s part of the populist talk, but it is a very sincere feeling shared by many in latin america. A general perception of the latin american left is (ironically) that both the u.s. diplomacy and the major media outlets are too ideological in its analysis, blinded by its anger against governmental policies that are quite modest, rational and well evaluated by the people and foreign academics.

In fact, the collusion between traditional media families, financial interests and u.s. foreign policy, forged throughout the cold war and strengthened during the neoliberal 90`s has been questioned all around by the new political elites: ecuador, argentina, venezuela, mexico and brazil are only the ones I`m more familiar with. This is fueled by the internet and its tendency towards breaking the oligopoly, and that`s where wikileaks comes in and how this whole affair is read through Correa`s eyes.

The Assange card would be a powerful asset on our region, but it`s a risky move. If I were to advise Correa, I`d say not to get involved, not to “poke the jaguar with a short stick” as we say. But hell, at the same time it would be very exciting to see the circus coming to town, naked emperor and all.

114

gordon 06.24.12 at 11:40 pm

Sebastian H (at 100): “…The allegations, if true, would be rape…”

Why the Dickens was the lady in question in bed with Assange? Is it really possible to have sex with somebody without waking them up? If the lady was awake, why didn’t she object?

I think my idea of rape is a good deal more robust than anything that might have transpired between Assange and the Swedish ladies. The whole thing looks like a frame-up to me.

115

Watson Ladd 06.24.12 at 11:40 pm

JQ: Because he needs to appear before a judge who decides whether or not he can continue to be held. This is from a summary of Swedish criminal procedure, which may not be accurate. There is a deeper principal: extradition should not depend on the differences between legal systems. If Sweden issues arrest warrants only for people who will be charged, and the US issues them for people suspected of crimes on probable cause standards who are formally charged at arraignment, then the distinctions either way shouldn’t provide a means for criminals to avoid apprehension.

116

rf 06.25.12 at 12:28 am

Slightly of topic, but the conversation between lupita, rici and dictateursanguinaire really is interesting. If you pay any sort of attention to the reaction to Morsi’s victory today, or the general support for the Syrian opposition the past year, it’s obvious nothing has changed among academic analysts in the US.
I’m much closer to rici’s perspective but the US foreign policy establishment, or at least their supposedly neutral public face, really are lazy and dumb

117

Chaz 06.25.12 at 1:27 am

John Quiggin,

“Do Not Feed the Trolls” blackballing is a last resort for readers on sites with passive administrators.

For readers who also happen to run the website, I propose a new phrase:
Do Not Fail to Banish the Trolls

Based on the absence of wall-to-wall spam on the board, I assume you have the ability to ban posters by IP?

118

rf 06.25.12 at 1:53 am

I’m not sure why you’re so cryptic Chaz, but if it’s the above I can provide evidence?

119

heteroskedastic 06.25.12 at 10:48 am

Henry @ 51

J. Otto Pohl – we’ve already had this go around and I’ve provided you with links to the academic scholarship on empire, which you complained was political science jargon with weird drawings.

Could you post a link to that post of links? Thanks.

120

Harold 06.25.12 at 1:10 pm

In case you missed it.
http://www.salon.com/2012/06/19/assange_asks_ecuador_for_asylum/
Glen Greenwald:
Ecuador may seem like a random choice but it’s actually quite rational. In 2010, a top official from that country offered Assange residency (though the Ecuadorian President backtracked after controversy ensued). Earlier this month, Assange interviewed that nation’s left-wing President, Rafael Correa, for his television program on RT. Among other things, Correa praised the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables as being beneficial for Ecuador (“We have nothing to hide. If anything, the WikiLeaks [releases] have made us stronger”). President Correa also was quite critical of the U.S., explaining the reason he closed the American base in his country this way: “Would you accept a foreign military base in your country? It’s so simple, as I said that at the time, there is no problem in having a U.S. military base in Ecuador but ok, perfect – we can give permission for the intelligence base only if they allow us to install an Ecuadorian base in the United States, a military base. That’s it, no more problem.”
….

Assange’s resolve to avoid extradition to Sweden has nothing to do with a reluctance to face possible sex assault charges there. His concern all along has been that once he’s in Swedish custody, he will far more easily be extradited to the U.S.

In general, small countries are more easily coerced and bullied by the U.S., and Sweden in particular has a demonstrated history of aceeding to U.S. demands when it comes to individuals accused of harming American national security. In December, 2001, Sweden handed over two asylum-seekers to the CIA, which then rendered them to be tortured in Egypt. A ruling from the U.N. Human Rights Committee found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for its role in that rendition (the two individuals later received a substantial settlement from the Swedish government). The fact that Sweden has unusually oppressive pre-trial procedures — allowing for extreme levels of secrecy in its judicial proceedings — only heightens Assange’s concern about what will happen to him vis-a-vis the U.S. if he ends up in Swedish custody.

Can anyone claim that Assange’s fear of ending up in American custody is anything other than supremely reasonable and rational? Just look at what has happened to people — especially foreign nationals — over the last decade who have been accused of harming the national security of the United States.

They’re imprisoned — still — without a whiff of due process, and President Obama just last year signed a new indefinite detention bill into law. Moreover, Assange need merely look at what the U.S. has done to Bradley Manning, accused of leaking documents and other materials to WikiLeaks: the Army Private was held for almost a year in solitary confinement conditions which a formal U.N. investigation found were “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” and he now faces life in prison, charged with a capital offense of aiding Al Qaeda.

121

rf 06.25.12 at 1:34 pm

heteroskedastic

Here it is

http://crookedtimber.org/2012/04/04/because-imperialism/#comment-409592

Harold

But Swedish law specifically states

“Extradition may not be granted for military or political offences. Nor may extradition be granted if there is reason to fear that the person whose extradition is requested runs a risk – on account of his or her ethnic origins, membership of a particular social group or religious or political beliefs – of being subjected to persecution threatening his or her life or freedom, or is serious in some other respect. Nor, moreover, may extradition be granted if it would be contrary to fundamental humanitarian principles, e.g. in consideration of a person’s youth or the state of this person’s health. Finally, in principle, extradition may not be granted if a judgment has been pronounced for the same offence in this country. Nor may extradition be granted if the offence would have been statute-barred by limitation under Swedish law.”

http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2710/a/15435

And Sweden has a history of not extradicting political dissenters.
Why is Sweden more likely to extradict him than the UK?
And what exactly is he going to be charged with in the US? (They’re not going to send him to Guantanamo or rendition him to Syria)
I guess at some stage you just have to trust the Swedes,and recognise the US probably doesnt have that much influence over their judiciary

122

Sebastian H 06.25.12 at 4:16 pm

“Assange’s resolve to avoid extradition to Sweden has nothing to do with a reluctance to face possible sex assault charges there. His concern all along has been that once he’s in Swedish custody, he will far more easily be extradited to the U.S.”

That is your interpretation, but it seems just as likely that he just doesn’t want to end up in jail in Sweden for a decade or two on rape charges and he happens to be rich enough to try to avoid it. You haven’t offered any particularly good reason why he is more likely to be extradited from Sweden than the UK (where he already is). Furthermore the political backlash over the torture case makes extradition from Sweden *now* less likely, not more likely.

123

Harold 06.25.12 at 4:39 pm

I’m sorry, Sebastian H., I failed to make it clearer that those were not my words but a quotation from Glenn Greenwald . Not sure how to manage the blockquote feature. You and rf differ with Greenwald on whether “we have to trust the Swedes” – or whether extradition from Sweden is now less or more likely.

In any case Asange is now a refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, as that blind Chinese dissident used to be in ours. As for myself, I can’t predict the future.

124

rici 06.25.12 at 4:49 pm

rf@116: I’m much closer to rici’s perspective but the US foreign policy establishment, or at least their supposedly neutral public face, really are lazy and dumb.

I don’t know what work is being done there by that but which leads me to believe that you, like many of the other participants in that “conversation” might believe that because I criticize one of Correa’s policies, I’m necessarily a supporter of the American Empire, if not a copilot of one of the tanks circling the Palacio de Carondelet.

Actually my perspective is that the US foreign policy establishment, the war-glorifying, torture-tolerating, US-exceptionalist foreign policy establishment, the everyone-should-have-the-right-to-think-like-us foreign policy establishment, is at best self-parodying (and dumb and lazy, and, frankly, dangerous). I’d like to think that in thirty or forty years, looking back at the insanity of these decades, someone will write a new version of Mad Men based on the foreign policy fraternity instead of the advertising empire. Of course, the title will need a new pun. I’d suggest Wash Outs.

By the way, @faustusnotes: if we banned all the newspapers which you disagree with, what would you do for fun of a Sunday morning?

125

rf 06.25.12 at 4:52 pm

Prof Q @ 112

This link has info on pre trial detention in Sweden which might answer your question

http://www.fairtrials.net/publications/article/julian-assange-and-detention-before-trial-in-sweden

“Swedish law requires a person to be physically present before charges can be laid, so this can only happen once Mr Assange is on Swedish territory.”

126

rf 06.25.12 at 4:54 pm

“I don’t know what work is being done there by that but which leads me to believe that you, like many of the other participants in that “conversation” might believe….”

There was no work being done by that but! I genuinely found your analysis of Correa, of whom I know nothing, more convincing.
I was just tired when I wrote that, hence the ambiguity

127

lupita 06.25.12 at 6:36 pm

“Currency attacks”. So if I hold currency, I must continue to hold it? I though everyone had a right to alienate their property.

Watson Ladd: Of course you may exchange those spare pesos you have left over from you vacations in Cancun. A currency attack involves first buying a massive amount of a currency in order to corner the market, buy futures, engineer a massive selling and panic, and go in for the kill. Who controls such vast amounts of capital to be able to do this? The shadow banking system in the US. What countries did not have enough reserves to fight off an attack? Countries in Latin America and East Asia.

128

Anarcissie 06.25.12 at 6:42 pm

In regard to #46 and some related messages, it might well be the judgement of the American leadership that some sort of grotesque, egregious violation of international law, custom, and opinion, such as Assange’s disappearance or murder in Sweden or anywhere else, might have a salutary effect on those who were tempted to emulate him, such that the benefits (terror) would outweigh the costs (outrage, much vacuous posturing, lingering bad repute), particularly because the acts were so grotesquely violative.

Actually, I believe if the the American leadership was of this mind they would have gotten rid of Assange already; that they would need the extradition business seems very doubtful. However, Assange is betting his hide, and probably wants to take more care than I do writing speculatively. There is certainly a non-trivial chance that extradition to Sweden could be a step towards a very unpleasant fate.

129

Barry 06.25.12 at 7:22 pm

Watson Ladd 06.23.12 at 4:14 am

” Let me get this right: when a country does something another country doesn’t approve of, the first country absolutely cannot chose to stop buying things from the second. This is a very strange principle: it would seem to block any sort of sanctions from ever being considered.”

You’re wrong. The situation is that the US ***government*** might increase taxes on goods purchased by individuals.

130

Barry 06.25.12 at 7:24 pm

Tom T. 06.23.12 at 4:50 am

” And there’s a certain naivete to the editorial. Assange is already working for Putin; why would he be troubled by Correa?”

Please, at least make it plausible.

131

Barry 06.25.12 at 7:29 pm

Katherine:

“And it would be difficult for Assange to disappear into a plane in the dead of night never to be seen again (a) because Sweden has requested his extradition, and (b) everyone would notice. He’s not some nameless, faceless Arab after all – he’s a white British man who everyone has heard of.”

Last I heard, the US has tortured white Brits and white Aussies, and there wasn’t a single problem that the higher-ups need lose sleep over.

132

LFC 06.25.12 at 7:30 pm

Andrew F. @93

I haven’t read the Post editorial beyond the paragraph quoted by Henry in the OP, but I think you’re right (re the Nexon/Wright piece) that “the specialized meaning of ‘imperial’ is one deprived of the kind of normative charge that the ordinary meaning of ‘imperial’ carries.”

But one could still criticize the WaPo paragraph, ISTM, if not perhaps as “doublethink,” then as somewhat blinkered. To put it bluntly: the WaPo editorial board implictly pooh-poohs the notion that the US exercises any extraordinary degree of power in Latin America (this is, arguably, the rhetorical function that the quotation marks around the word “empire” perform) and yet then goes on to mention an exercise of power — removal of trade preferences — intended in this case to punish a country for standing up to the US. So the editorial does seem to show a lack of self-consciousness, at least, about what it says. (Or so one could argue, at any rate.)

133

LFC 06.25.12 at 7:33 pm

On second thought I am coming to the conclusion that a paragraph in a WaPo editorial is probably not worth this kind of quasi-literary-critical dissection.

134

Barry 06.25.12 at 7:48 pm

Watson Ladd: “There is a deeper principal: extradition should not depend on the differences between legal systems. “

Actually, it’s not a principle; AFAIK difference in legal systems do restrict extraditions (e.g., Germany trying to extradite somebody from the USA for pro-Nazi speech/writing).

135

roy belmont 06.25.12 at 9:32 pm

It seems a mistake at this rather late hour to particularize these things., exciting as it is.
Whoever/whatever is grinding through our world in this way – Manning, Iraq, Assange, Venezuela, Afghanistan, not to mention some amazingly fortuitous, for the wrong side, occurrences in the lower Mediterranean – it’s cunning and sophisticated and capable of a very wide view. And it’s been at it a long while.
So what happens to Assange, or doesn’t, I think, will be carefully set into its own context, from which the response of us on the outside will have been well anticipated.
It rests on whether you think what’s attacking us via Manning and Assange is Satanic in its incompetence, or Satanic by intention. My guess is intent.

136

ajay 06.26.12 at 2:51 am

“have you cast your eye over what’s happening in the media in Britain at the moment? There are a lot of countries that could benefit by adopting a few measures to curtail the “freedom” of the press, since this freedom is clearly being deployed in the interests of plutocracy and (in Murdoch’s case) war and mass murder.”

I admire this sort of idealism; nasty cynical men like me think “given that the current government is in bed with Murdoch, I know perfectly well who would be the subject of any additional powers it got to constrain the freedom of the press; Murdoch’s competitors”. This is like saying that the solution to the police being in the pay of the Kray Brothers is to give the police more powers to hold people on sus.

137

Katherine 06.26.12 at 10:13 am

Last I heard, the US has tortured white Brits and white Aussies, and there wasn’t a single problem that the higher-ups need lose sleep over.

Were they called Julian Assange, and did they have the world’s media following their every move, and an internet full of fan boys willing to leap to their defence at every stage?

138

Consumatopia 06.26.12 at 11:36 am

@Andrew F.

Whether the US is an “imperial power” vis-a-vis certain aspects of its relations with foreign entities in the specialized sense the term might be used in international relations theory, and whether the US “is an empire” in the ordinary sense (with normative implications) used by Correa are not identical questions.

I don’t think the”specialized” usage isn’t very specialized. If I refer to a larger corporation as a “corporate empire”, I don’t expect ordinary speakers, American or otherwise, to be puzzled by what I’m saying because the corporation doesn’t claim any sovereign territory–people understand that by “empire” I’m referring to the scale and asymmetry of said power.

What you believe the “normative implications” to be probably depend on whether you’re the one exerting the power or the one the power is exerted over. But there’s no reason that we should select our words to please the former rather than the latter.

The kind of control the US desires here starts to resemble a territorial claim in effect if not in mechanism. The United States doesn’t like this particular Australian citizen because he distributes information the United States would not like to see distributed. It is not just the United States (if acting as WaPo would prefer) is threatening to deny trade privileges, it is that the reason for doing so would be to punish a non-American for speech America doesn’t like.

139

faustusnotes 06.26.12 at 11:58 am

No ajay, it’s like saying the solution to the police being in the pay of the Kray Brothers is to break up the police networks, institute a new system of police oversight that is independent of the police and holds real powers to intervene in police affairs, sack and/or imprison a whole bunch of corrupt police, hold police to the same legal standards as the rest of the community, reorganize police forces so that they can’t form corrupt cartels, and change police training and recruitment processes so that they are more robust against petty corruption. Soon the Kray Brothers find themselves in prison too: see, e.g., the Woods Royal Commission into police corruption and its recommendations.

The nasty cynical man in you is ceding all the power to the scumbags. A bit of optimism can go a long way in destroying entrenched power systems, if it’s employed with a little more finesse and aggro than the British political system is used to.

140

Barry 06.26.12 at 12:47 pm

06.26.12 at 10:13 am

Me: ” Last I heard, the US has tortured white Brits and white Aussies, and there wasn’t a single problem that the higher-ups need lose sleep over.”

Katherine: ” Were they called Julian Assange, and did they have the world’s media following their every move, and an internet full of fan boys willing to leap to their defence at every stage?”

No, and it’s a good point that there’d be a kerfuffle. However, when the white Brits and Aussies were released, and told their stories, the blowback on the US higher ups was, AFAICT, zero. In Julian’s case, this might mean that the higher ups would have to make a (slimy, dishonest) statement (worthy of Stalin’s spokespeople).

In the end, not much of a problem.

141

Barry 06.26.12 at 1:02 pm

Katherine, let’s say that Assange was extradited to the USA, laundered through Sweden.
He’s maybe sent to Gitmo, or maybe just held in solitary in a military prison.

What, in the end, would happen?

Remember:
Half of the US people *want* casual imprisonment and torture.

Half of Congress does, at the least.
The other half, at best will duck and cover.

SCOTUS won’t do a d*mn thing; this sort of stuff is what the majority desires for our country.

The press will generally support anything that the US government does to a ‘supporter of terrorism’ (with the odd tut-tuting, which is more likely than not served with a heaping side of ‘reluctant’ approval).

142

Watson Ladd 06.27.12 at 4:06 am

Barry: that’s something being a crime in one country that isn’t in another. I should have specified procedural. SCOTUS is also not impotent: a flagrant violation of the current law on Gitmo would bring down an injunction immediately. Courts do not like to be disobeyed.

143

John Quiggin 06.27.12 at 6:12 am

@rf Indeed, the implication appears to be that extraditing *anyone* to Sweden is highly problematic, since they face lengthy periods of imprisonment before coming to trial. Extradition to the US is even worse – as is illustrated more directly by the various hacker cases in which the US is seeking extraterritorial application of its laws to UK citizens.

144

Barry 06.27.12 at 11:50 am

Watson, then just hold him at Bagram, or any one of God only knows how many mini-gulags the USA maintains.

Or find some excuse to ‘extradite’ him to some torture-contractor country.

145

Shenpen 06.27.12 at 2:23 pm

I really, really don’t understand how people like the author think. Duties are normal in international trade, and no country ever is obliged to give special privileges to countries that do not play nice with them.

It is really hard for me to form some kind of conceptual map of the author’s thought process. It must be something like:

– strong vs. weak
– being nice vs. being mean

Adding up to: if for whatever reason and by whatever means the strong decides to play less nice with the weak, that is somehow empire and oppression and whatnot.

Um… really?

What the author forgets is those entirely obvious thing: why would anyone on Earth care the US or any other country owes anything to Equador or those 400,000 people? Why is anything given not seen as a gracious grant to be grateful for, why is it seen as a right demanded by justice?

146

Marco 06.27.12 at 4:23 pm

@ajay 136

I partly agree with your cynicism, but we can travel a long way if we remember right to reply is different from censorship. What is needed is a stronger defense of the right to reply when inaccurate statements are made, not huge fines like in Correa`s case.

Sure, Fox News would probably implode as a consequence and their competitors would be happy, but they would also suffer from it and it would serve the public very well. All countries are in fault in this regard, but the u.s. seems to be particularly allergic to the idea of right to reply as part of freedom of speech. I think part of the reason is that americans often operate with a rigid dichotomy “no government regulation X totalitarian dictatorship” that forgets, for example, that the judiciary is not the executive, and that no one will lose his freedom of speech if he has to give proportionate space for a reply when his speech is plainly false.

147

Harold 06.27.12 at 5:05 pm

Freedom to respond is part of free speech, arguably.

148

Chingona 06.27.12 at 9:47 pm

If waking up to find that a man penetrating you, asking him what the fuck he is doing and reminding him that one of the stipulations of sex with you is that he must wear a condom, and finding that he responds with the bone-chilling remark that he’s “wearing [you],” if all that seems consensual to you, Harold, then you’ve no business discussing the topic of rape in adult company. Calling Assange ungentlemanly and a free spirit in the context of these allegations is disgusting. Find yourself a working fainting couch if the mere whiff of a rape accusation is that disturbing and “inflammatory” to you.

149

Chingona 06.27.12 at 9:51 pm

Oh, and about that hoary old cliche, Harold–sullying the good name of rape by using it appropriately. It is to barf. When is CT going to purge itself of all this dunderheaded misogyny is a rhetorical question best posed in the lady posts, I suppose: the ones about naked boobs and free speech and oppressive beauty standards that dare not speak their name, for fear of offending an anti-feminist.

150

Harold 06.27.12 at 10:20 pm

Women can also take steps to protect themselves.

151

Jerry Vinokurov 06.27.12 at 10:27 pm

I have to admit that I did not expect to see rape apologists on Crooked Timber. Shows what I know, I guess.

152

Gene 06.29.12 at 6:24 am

Nice to see a website where the comments do not devolve so far down the pit of name calling and political pointmaking…actual thoughtful comments, even admitting one might be wrong oneself.

Refreshing.

Comments on this entry are closed.